Alvin Alexander | Java, Scala, Unix, Perl, Mac OS X

If you ever need to convert Docbook to AsciiDoc, this Pandoc command seems to work well:

pandoc --wrap=none -f docbook -t asciidoc \
       DocbookFile.xml > AsciiDocFile.adoc

Nature.com has a great article, How ‘magic angle’ graphene is stirring up physics (Misaligned stacks of the wonder material exhibit superconductivity and other curious properties).

“Keep grinding man. If you’ve ever been down, misplaced, overlooked, just keep grinding baby. You’re dreams don’t die until you give up on them. Just continue to keep working.”

~ CJ Anderson, let go by the Broncos, Panthers, Raiders, and now a star in the playoffs with the Rams

Canadian street gangs will mess you up.

I’m glad to say that I’ll be going back to regular consulting work again very soon. If you’re interested in the gory medical details that led me to quit consulting work (and write five computer programming books and a couple thousand blog posts), here you go:

When you worry about where your words land or how others digest or perceive them, you are clinging (and not allowing space for more to come through the channel). Continually create, let go, surrender to more. Create, let go, surrender to more. It is a divine dance. Respect your own story. Remain inside the rhythm.

~ Victoria Erickson

“I met a dolphin down there, and I swear to God that dolphin looked not at me, but into my soul, into my goddamn soul, and said, ‘I’m saving you Megan.’ Not with his mouth, but he said it — I’m assuming telepathically — we had a connection that I don’t even know if I can explain.”

~ from the movie Bridesmaids

Bridesmaids movie dolphin quote

For folks in states like Colorado where marijuana is legal, per uchealth.org, edible marijuana seems to be causing a lot more health problems than inhaled marijuana. A few notes:

  • It can take up to four hours for the high from an edible to take effect
  • Edibles are 268 times more likely than inhaled marijuana to cause users in Colorado to seek help at an ER (despite the fact that many more people use the inhaled form)
  • Edibles have a more severe toxicity than inhaled forms and the effects are psychiatric in nature

I had it in my mind that the worst of the mast cell disease (MCAS) side effects didn’t kick in until later in 2015, but I just saw this memory on Facebook from January 3, 2015:

“The day started off with a bad dream, after which I woke up, threw up, and had the shakes for long time. Fortunately it got much better as the day went on, and I eventually enjoyed a belated Christmas celebration with friends and family.”

I remember the vomiting and shakes started long before this – I learned to keep a trash can by the bedside – so those symptoms would have been well back into 2014.

In this InfoQ Java in 2019 Predictions article, this line stood out the most: Java 9 and 10 saw virtually no deployment to production. Working alone I occasionally wonder what large companies are doing, and with these Java major version number releases coming every six months I was wondering how that was playing out.

Yesterday one of my doctors was struggling to give me a little bit of bad news, fumbling a little over his words and giving me a very lengthy explanation. After a little while I told him listen, I’ve been unconscious seven times, I’ve had three fake heart attacks (allergic angina), and I was once told that I had a 10% chance of dying during an operation. What you’re telling me right now, it’s okay, it’s not that big of a deal. He calmed down a little after that.

This photo of walking through a neighborhood in Wasilla, Alaska in the winter reminds me of a few walks I took here in Colorado in the last few days after our New Years snow.

Walking in Wasilla

This image shows symptoms of Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, from this article. I can personally attest to abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, nausea, vomiting, difficulty digesting certain foods, muscle and bone pain, muscle weakness, nerve pain, headache, neuropathy, difficulty concentrating, reduced attention span, brain fog, itching, rashes, hives, inflammation, swelling, flushing, inflammation of the eye or conjunctivitis, trouble focusing eyes, itchy and watery eyes, a burning sensation, ulcers on the tongue or in the mouth, coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, sinus pain or pressure, enlarged spleen, elevated liver enzymes, high cholesterol, rapid heart rate, abnormal blood pressures (either too high or too low), fainting, anaphylaxis, chemical and environmental sensitivities (and more).

Symptoms of Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS)

One day during a speech Hakuin said, “They say there’s a pure land where everything is only mind, and that there’s a Buddha of light in your own body. Once that Buddha of light appears, mountains, rivers, earth, grass, trees, and forests suddenly glow with a great light. To see this, you have to look inside your own heart.”

An old innkeeper who had meditated for many years was sitting in the audience, and when she heard this, she felt a strange understanding of his words. She later told her family, “I feel that happiness is as near as my skin.” When she was awake and asleep she kept his words alive: “Inside your own heart. Trees shine with a great light.”

Meet The Teenage Girl Who Is Allergic to Almost Everything is a good story about the blood disease I have (MCAS, or Mast Cell Activation Syndrome). I’m very fortunate that I didn’t have bad symptoms until the last 7-10 years or so, and removing part of my colon recently has also helped reduced the symptoms. It would major-league suck to have this disease when you’re 15 years old.

As a quick note to self, here’s an example of how to set scalacOptions in an SBT build.sbt file:

scalacOptions ++= Seq(
    "-Xfatal-warnings",
    "-deprecation",
    "-feature",
    "-unchecked",
    "-language:implicitConversions",
    "-language:higherKinds",
    "-language:existentials",
    "-language:postfixOps"
)

As shown, scalacOptions lets you set Scala compiler options in your SBT project build.

Introduction: After reading the following text in the book, The Science of Enlightenment, I decided to try meditating outside in sweatpants and a hoodie in the freezing cold in the evenings. It’s now my favorite form of meditation because you either do it right, or suffer the consequences.

~~~

Several months later, as winter approached and it was getting cold and uncomfortable, the Abbot told me that if I wanted to be trained in traditional Shingon practice he would allow it — but I would have to do with the old-fashioned way. I would have to do a solo retreat for one hundred days in winter, most of the time with no source of heat, in complete silence other than occasional instruction from him, and with no meal after noon.

My training began on December 22, the day of the winter solstice. The Abbot had warned me that part of the old-fashioned way involved certain ascetic practices derived not from Buddhism, but from the shamanic tradition of Shinto, Japan’s pre-Buddhist tribal religion. One of the most common methods that tribal cultures use to obtain visions of gods or spirits is through prolonged exposure to extreme hot or cold. In India, Hindus have the five fires practice; in North America, Native Americans have the sweat lodge and the sun dance. These involve heat. The traditional Shinto shamanic practice goes in the other direction. It involves cold — squatting under freezing waterfalls in winter, standing in cold springs, dousing your body with ice water, and so forth.

An investing company just sent me a very long email filled with hundreds of words and a dozen or more shiny pictures to show how successful they are. Not once did they mention what their return on investment (ROI) was for their investors — which is the only thing that matters.

As an investor, the only thing that matters to you is ROI after taxes; keep your eye on that ball, not the shiny pictures or fancy words.

I’m reminded of the time right before an interview for a contracting position that a tech recruiter called and told me, “Don’t appear to be too smart. Pretend that you can’t answer some of his questions if you have to. He won’t hire people he thinks are smarter than he is.” I answered every question he asked because if that’s the way he was, I didn’t want to work there.

As a manager or business owner — any kind of leader — always hire people that are smarter than you in one or more ways.